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APB Dynasonics ProRack H1020

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Bennett Prescott:
If you ever want to have a manufacturer tell you to PLEASE don't buy their product, offer to do a Road Test of the APB Dynasonics ProRack H1020. I've been forbidden to lay any money out until well after this review is done, which is fine with me since I got to use it without paying for it.

Any regular reader of these forums will be familiar with APB Dynasonics, the relatively new console company from New Jersey manufacturing high quality, great sounding, yet reasonably priced all-analog (so far) mixing consoles. Their first console, the Spectra, has garnered rave reviews across these forums and the entire industry, and is such a great piece of hardware that I bought one myself. So far it's making more money than I am, I get shows just for having it in my shop.

The APB crew has moved on from their success with the Spectra series consoles to build the ProRack series of compact, rackmount FOH and monitor consoles. The ProRack FOH has just recently started shipping, and demand is so great they're having to expand their manufacturing facilities to get over the initial wave without extensive delays. I used one at the ProLight and Sound show in Germany a few months ago, but most recently APB were kind enough to pull one out of production for me to fiddle around with on a real live show. Unfortunately, I only got to keep it for a little over a week, because Chuck (the A in APB) needed it for his booth at the InfoCOMM show in California next week (he'll be showing off all their toys at booth #7944).

The ProRack H1020 offers 12 mono input channels and 4 dual-mono/stereo input channels (20 mic preamps in total). The chassis design features an adjustable connector assembly that freely rotates and be set to three different angles relative to the front panel. Variable frequency high-pass filters are included on all input channels (Mono and Stereo) with a 20Hz to 400Hz sweep range at a 12dB per octave attenuation rate. The ProRack Mono input channels incorporate fixed high and low frequency EQ bands and two mid-sweep EQ bands with one-octave bandwidth. The EQ includes an EQ On switch with LED. The Stereo channels feature fixed high and low frequency EQ bands and a single mid-sweep EQ based on same Spectra circuitry. The ProRack-House (H1020) offers 6 aux send controls; each pair of sends switchable between a pre or post fader source. In the pre-fader position, an additional front panel switch determines if that pre-fader signal is derived pre or post EQ. Aux controls 5 and 6 may be switched to become a stereo pair. All Auxiliary mixes have TRS bus input and insert connectors, and XLR balanced output connectors. On the ProRack-House, the operator can assign the channels to Left-Right, Center and Mono mix buses and to analog subgroups 1-2 and 3-4. Large, internally illuminated Mute and PFL switches are provided along with 6-segment LED metering and high quality 100mm faders; the same type used in the Spectra series consoles. Each of the four main buses has TRS bus input and insert connectors, and XLR balanced outputs. The Left, Right, Center and Mono outputs may be individually switched from their normal output level (+4dBu) to mic level.
(some of that was hacked together from APB's product page, since I'm lazy)

So if you've only got a week in which to really work through a console, where do you take it? Why, to the Starscape Festival, a 16 hour long music event from midafternoon to sunup on the Maryland shore, of course! 5 stages of everything from bands to DJs, one of which had the honor of being mixed entirely off the new ProRack. Some photos:

I wasn't mixing, as I had 4 stages to hold down in one way or another, so I was running around and production managing. Tom Manchester was my go-to guy for the two smaller "beach" stages, with the Mackie TT24 on the bigger stage and the ProRack on the smaller. Between the two of us we got the tech I was given for the ProRack stage up and running, patched in, and then essentially left him alone for the remainder of the gig.

That stage had bands on and off all day until early the next morning, and with a minimum of equipment (and minimal experience on the mixing guy's part) managed to sound great the entire time. He said he found the ProRack easy to use, and while he started off with some excessive levels really abusing the board, he was well under control within a reasonable period of time and kept the music going. The board sounded great the whole time, as I would have expected based on my previous experiences with it. Any durability concerns should go out the window now as well, as this gig was LONG and FILTHY and REALLY ROUGH on the gear and the techs. It was nice to have gear that I could set and forget and leave some guy I'd never met to babysit, without regret.

As you can see, we didn't use the board in any sort of a factory approved manner:

And to show you how much dirt and dust there was (and it rained!) take a look at this speaker's grille after the show was over (it started the gig flawlessly clean):

So to wrap up, I'm pleased as punch with the board. It took a hell of a lot of abuse, sounded fantasic, and was certainly easy to use. Great sounding EQ, lots of routing, and swept high pass on every input round out an already powerful feature set. I'm definitely going to pick one up, and the monitor version when it ships, so that I can have a full featured no-compromise mixing setup even at small shows. If you've been wondering why there were so few options in the mixer world that are both rackmount and sound as good as a pro level console, now there's one more!

If you're at InfoCOMM, stop by the APB booth (#7944) and see what that mixer looks like after I beat the snot out of it. Sorry, Chuck, hope it cleans up OK!

Chuck Augustowski:
Thank your Bennett for your Road Test Review.  This particular unit will be operational at Infocomm should anyone want to give it a listen.  It will also become a Rep Sample in the Southern California area after the show, in the possession of our rep firm Mac West (See our web page for contact information) if you would like to try the unit within this area.

Chuck Augustowski

Matt Harris: i want one

Hi Bennet.
Did you compare the 1020 to the Venice 160 ?
I did, and I can tell you very simply that the Venice sounds warmer and better far away. description of so many features just covers up its weakness in sound quality and lack of mute buttons on all outputs and cheap chinese eq buttons.

Bennett Prescott:

I have never disguised my feeling that the Venice is a souped up toy, without the feature set or routing flexibility of many solutions its size. I agree it sounds good, but I suspect if you heard a "thin" sound out of the ProRack it was due to an error somewhere else in the signal chain. The last thing I would ever say about the ProRack is that it sounds "thin" in any way... in fact, I find it to be remarkable in its ability to pass clean, solid low frequency signal.

I'm not even going to address your comments regarding cheapness, as I find them unwarranted, but in regards to no output mutes... come on man! You want a desktop mixer or a rackmount mixer? I'll survive without a few output mutes in return for not having to haul out my 48 frame analog while at the same time not feeling like I've taken a step down in fidelity or flexibility.

While it is impossible to design something as small as the ProRack 1020 and satisfy everyone, I think you should take a second look as your primary complaints don't make any sense to me.


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